If you have purchased an OEM (from the hardware vendor, like Dell, HP, Lenovo…) copy of Windows Server 2016 it will be version 1609 build 10.0.14393. You likely know that the most recent version of Windows Server 2016 is version 1709 (i.e. September 2017) and want to upgrade prior to putting your servers into production. The short version of this story is, you can’t. Here is the longer version:
Windows Server 2016 does have security/bug UPDATES made available for it, but not UPGRADES. This makes Windows Server different from Windows 10, in that Microsoft does make Windows 10 upgrades available for life. This difference is because Microsoft wants to sell Software Assurance (SA) on their server products (for 1/3rd of the purchase price each year, but you pay every year, forever, whether there is an upgrade or not).
As a result, here are the fun facts related to Server 2016 upgrades:
- OEM Windows Server 2016 is currently ver 10.0.14393 which is “1609”
- There is no public plans to upgrade Windows Server 2016 like Windows 10 does
- There are a few exceptions to the no upgrades rule:
- If you have Software Assurance you can download 1709 from the Volume Licensing Service Center
- MSDN Visual Studio subscribers have access to 1709
- Windows Server LTSB which will get an upgrade with a new release planned for every 2-3 years. That means server version will have an upgrade on 2018 or 2019. By that time the latest server version might be Windows Server 2016 R2 or Microsoft will give it a new name
- Windows Server 2016 1709 is ONLY for bare metal installs and is not an upgrade.
- The next Windows Server ‘upgrade’ is expected to be Server 2016 R2, which is should be released the winter of 2018/2019
- Server 2016 R2 will be a “new product” like Server 2012 R2 was and will not be eligible for ‘free upgrade’ unless you have SA
- Windows Server 2016 version 1709 is:
- Available ONLY to those with Software Assurance
- Is ONLY functional for those running “Server Core”, and does not have a full GUI
Microsoft has also made the following FAQ’s available:
To get a comprehensive view of the key facts about Windows Server, version 1709, you should also review these topics prior to installing it:
- What hardware is needed to run it? See System requirements; the system requirements for this release are the same as for Windows Server 2016.
- What new features and functionality have been added? See What’s New in Windows Server version 1709
- What has been removed? See Features Removed or Planned for Replacement starting with Windows Server (version 1709)
- What issues unique to this release need to be worked around? See Release notes–Important issues in Windows Server, version 1709